{ Co-designed and fisher-driven ICTs to empower small-scale fisheries ‘from hook to cook}

The ABALOBI* initiative is an open, transdisciplinary and social learning endeavour, bringing together various stakeholders, with traditional fishers taking centre stage. ABALOBI, as a mobile app suite and programme, is aimed at social justice and poverty alleviation in the small-scale fisheries chain, transformation in the way we produce knowledge, stewardship of our marine resources, and resilience building in the face of climate change. Promoting traceable, storied seafood by empowered small-scale fishers from hook to cook, in a manner that is not only ecologically responsible, but also socially fair. Because who fishes matters.
*ABALOBI is a registered Non-Profit Organisation (NPO 191-303) and status 18A Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930063015)

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Many of our team members, including the small-scale fishers of South Africa, were integrally involved in the design of South Africa’s new Small-Scale Fisheries Policy, which emanated from a Constitutional Court Order and international human and fishing rights obligations. ABALOBI brings us together as an extension of our research, advocacy and policy work, and launches us into implementation and co-operative governance.
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{ Working towards good governance and embracing a human-rights-based approach to fisheries: Through the development of an integrated small-scale fisheries information management system and mobile app suite, the ABALOBI initiative aims to enable small-scale fishing communities to be incorporated into information and resource networks: from fishery monitoring and maritime safety, to local development and market opportunities }

ABALOBI, isiXhosa for small-scale fisher, is the name given to the app suite by small-scale fisherfolk involved in the co-development process


  • Promoting stewardship

    Fishers encouraged to serve as custodians and promote sustainability. Allows opportunity for integration with conservation efforts.

  • Empowerment in the value chain

    Working towards community-supported fisheries and traceable slowfish. Empowerment through market information and collective action.

  • Co-operative fisheries governance

    Using a common knowledge base, based on fishers’ daily data, all stakeholders at the co-management table are poised equally.

  • Ecosystems approach to fisheries

    Decisions by fishers and other stakeholders can be based on ecological and social indicators.

  • Climate change adaptation

    Improved safety at sea and resilience building in the face of climate change.

  • Enabling tool for policy implementation

    Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (South Africa) and UN-FAO Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (International)

  • Financial inclusion

    Transformative approaches to financial inclusion among marginalised societies.

{ What started as a participatory action research project with a strong community development interface, has evolved into a social enterprise that is now registered as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and public benefit entity to better serve its fisher-driven mission }

Transdisciplinary research

Stakeholders work together in framing the problem and research needs, leading to the co-design of the tool based on input and tests in real-life contexts.

Co-design and fisher-driven process

Ensures data ownership and trust. Practical development and implementation within a bottom-up, participatory framework. Focus on product, process and enabling policy.

Open access for small-scale fishers

Leveraging the latest tech. Sharing innovations globally.

Recognition of fishers’ knowledge

Bridging local knowledge with science and policy. Developing knowledge for co-management.

ICT4D for small-scale fisheries: The ABALOBI initiative is about catalysing real transformation, of knowledge generation, of people, and of resource governance


The ABALOBI app suite comprises five inter-connected apps – conceptualised in a co-design process and currently in various stages of development and testing. The five apps cover the full spectrum of stakeholders in the small-scale fisheries sector from hook to cook, governance and beyond. Learn more …


The foundation of the app suite where fishers co–produce knowledge. Personal logbook with sharing options. Safety-at-sea integrations. More ...


Digitised community catch monitoring at the landing site & along the shoreline. More ...


Real-time fishery data & communications for co-management. More ...


Co-operative member & fleet management. Collective & transparent accounting. Catch value-adding. More ...


Fish with an ecological & social ‘story‘. Towards community-supported fisheries. Empowerment in the value chain. More ...

International reach

Beyond South Africa: An open source approach to the co-development of the ABALOBI platform seeks to allow customisation and use by small-scale fisheries stakeholders worldwide, aligned with the implementation of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.


Aligned with the United Nations SDGs



  • Top 10: UNESCO-NETEXPLO Forum 2017
  • Development Award: SAB Foundation 2017
  • UNESCO-Pearson Case Study 2017/2018
  • Finalist: Apps Africa Awards 2016


Public Benefit

ABALOBI ICT4FISHERIES is a registered Status 18A Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930063015). Donations made to the organisation are tax deductible in terms of section 18A of the Income Tax Act of the Republic of South Africa.

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In Oct 2019 in a #DesignThinking Workshop co-hosted by @OribiV @SAFoodlab we shared our #ABALOBI lessons & experiences with other #foodsystems #changemakers seeking #techforgood solutions to strengthen the contribution of #smallscalefarming stakeholders in the #CapeTown region... https://t.co/02leaYbgnk

Fortunate to have extended the #ABALOBI programme in 2019 to begin work with the unique & vibrant #Kassiesbaai #SSF community steeped in traditional fishing culture. Great snippet by @kykNETtv: 📽️https://t.co/OIGnfyDOV7

#techforgood #smallscalefisheries #fisheriesinnovation

We’ll be @FAO International Symposium on #Fisheries #Sustainability in Rome next week! @abalobi_app MD @Sergeraemaekers will present the #ICT4Fisheries keynote: How can #ICTs answer some of #bigdata questions about #smallscalefisheries?

#fisheriesinnovation #sustainablefisheries

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